An announcement by NHS England confirming the launch of a scheme to get 1,500 more clinical pharmacists working in GP surgeries has been welcomed by Polegate MP, Maria Caulfield.
The plans would see clinical pharmacists - who are highly trained experts in disease and medication - work as part of the general practice team to provide specialist advice for patients, particularly the elderly and those with multiple conditions.
It is expected that by taking responsibility for patients with chronic diseases, clinical pharmacists can free up GPs for other appointments and so reducing the numbers of people presenting at A&E departments. They will work closely with community and hospital pharmacists to provide joined-up NHS pharmacy services for patients and so ease pressures on other parts of the health service.
NHS England has published guidance to help with the next round of applications, following a successful pilot which has already seen over 490 more clinical pharmacists working in GP surgeries.
The initial £15m pilot, supported by Health Education England, the RCGP and the BMA, has proved so popular with patients and GP practices that NHS England doubled the funding to £31m in November 2015. This led to more than 490 clinical pharmacists working in approximately 650 practices across 90 pilot sites.
Applications for this next phase, worth over £100m, this month as NHS England and its partners target a further 1,500 clinical pharmacists working in general practice by 2020/21, a commitment set out in the General Practice Forward View.
This scheme follows the announcement of a range of other measures introduced to recruit and retain GPs and expand the workforce. These have included a new Induction and Refresher Scheme, GP Trainee Recruitment Campaign and a salary supplement for hard to recruit GP training places.
Welcoming the announcement, the Maria Caulfield said, “Having worked within the NHS for 20 years I very much welcome this step by NHS England, which will both help to relieve front line NHS staff, whilst also providing a great opportunity for those interested in this line of work.
“I am delighted to see the Government recognising the great skills held by our pharmacists, building upon my speech on a debate on pharmacies at the end of the last year.”